Sunday, 18 September 2016

Brian Wildsmith Obituary.

"Children are all-important, and so is art ... Art is food for the soul. And books are a child's first encounter with art so I felt it was a way I could make a contribution to the world. A drop in the ocean maybe, but picture books offered a chance to communicate the importance of things such as kindness, compassion, friendship, beauty."               Brian Wildsmith

As  I searched for the link to Brian Wildsmith for yesterdays post, I made the sad discovery that he had very recently died. Brian Wildsmith illustrated over eighty books during his long career. His first book was an alphabetical creature book which instantly gained him recognition and a Kate Greenaway Medal. He went on to publish a book every year during the 1960's and 1970's encouraged by his editor Mabel George and published by his life long publisher The Oxford University Press.
‘Picture books give an opportunity for a marriage between painting and illustrating . . . I believe that beautiful picture books of the right kind are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child’s appreciation, which will bear fruit in later life.’ Brian Wildsmith
Brian was born in 1930 in Penistone, Yorkshire. He attended Barnsley Art School when he was sixteen for two years during this time he illustrated for the local paper and met his wife Aurélie Ithurbide whom he married when he was 25. He received a scholarship to attend the Slade School of Art, completing his degree just before being called up for military service, during which he was assigned to the Royal Army Education Corps teaching mathematics and music. He left the army after eighteen months and took a position as an art teacher at Sellhurst Grammar School for Boys in London. Brian gradually built his career designing book covers and commissions and managed to gave up full time teaching in 1957 to devote himself to his illustration work.

In 1971 Brian, Aurélie and their four children Clare, Rebecca, Anna and Simon settled in France. He continued to publish with OUP working with a succession of supportive editors creating award winning books with illustrations formed of a myriad of texture and colour. Vivid, exciting and beautiful Brian's books were like him, full of warmth, compassion and wisdom.


  1. I was saddened to hear of his death his illustrations are always so cheerful. I have a couple of his books.

  2. How sad. he has left behind much joy though.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about his death. Thank you for this obituary; he must have been a wonderful man, as are his books and illustrations.